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Florida Public Media Names 2021 Champions

Florida’s association of public broadcasters recognized four members of the legislature for their important roles in supporting public broadcasting this past session. 

Winners of the 2021 Florida Public Media Champion Award include:

  • Senator Doug Broxson (Pensacola)
  • Senator Audrey Gibson (Jacksonville)
  • Representative Randy Fine (Palm Bay)
  • Representative Jay Trumbull (Panama City)

“On behalf of my colleagues in public media across the great state of Florida, I’m proud to congratulate the four recipients of the Florida Public Media Champion Award for 2021,” said Randy Wright, General Manager of WUFT in Gainesville-Ocala and chair of the organization.

“Senators Broxson and Gibson, and Representatives Fine and Trumbull, played significant parts in highlighting the extraordinary public safety and educational roles public media play in Florida.”

“We’re proud to recognize them for their valuable contributions to the communities we all serve,” Wright said.

Florida Public Media represents 24 public radio and television stations throughout the state.

The annual award is given to honor those who have championed support for public broadcasting in the legislature.

It is inscribed with a quote by the legendary Fred Rogers: “Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.”

Past winners have included:

  • Senator Rob Bradley (Orange Park)
  • Senator Manny Diaz (Hialeah Gardens)
  • Senator Kathleen Passidomo (Naples)
  • Senator Kelli Stargel (Lakeland)
  • Representative Travis Cummings (Orange Park)
  • Representative Heather Fitzenhagen (Ft. Myers)
  • Representative Jake Raburn (Valrico)
  • Representative Josie Tomkow (Auburndale)
  • Representative Susan Valdes (Tampa) 

General Manager of WGCU, Rick Johnson, to retire

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – WGCU General Manager Rick Johnson recently announced his intention to retire from that post on June 1, 2021.

Johnson’s career in broadcast media spans 52 years, with four decades and eight sets of call letters to his credit before he joined WGCU as GM 12 years ago.

In an email to staff and the WGCU Public Media Advisory Board Oct. 6, Johnson outlined his immediate and continuing vision for WGCU as assuming a greater role as the media outlet of record and public interest journalism in Southwest Florida.

Johnson’s tenure in public media includes PBS stations in Seattle and Albuquerque, followed by deep ties to Florida stations. Since January 1991, he has been involved with virtually every aspect of public media in Florida, in Tallahassee and Jacksonville prior to Southwest Florida and WGCU.

“Rick Johnson is one of public media’s outstanding leaders – not just in Florida but everywhere he has served,” said Patrick Yack, executive director, Florida Public Media. “He has been a thoughtful, engaging and inspiring member of the Florida Public Media Board and he was an exceptional chair. Always dedicated to our mission, Rick has left an indelible mark on our craft and our profession.” 

“Southwest Florida WGCU members have benefited from his vision and the execution of the outstanding team he assembled,” said advisory board chair Judy Bricker. “The station has realized its potential with Johnson at the helm and will now reach to a new and higher set of goals thanks to his continued vision.”

“Rick’s depth of experience will be sorely missed at WGCU, but he well deserves the time to begin his next chapter,” said Katherine (Kitty) Green, FGCU vice president, University Advancement, and executive director, FGCU Foundation.

A national search will ensue for his replacement.

Johnson concluded his announcement with this: “In addition to it having been an honor and a privilege it has also been a pleasure to work alongside all of you through the proverbial thick and thin to make WGCU one of the most successful, most-watched, most-listened-to, and most-well-supported public media organizations in the country.”

About WGCU

WGCU is Southwest Florida’s source for PBS and NPR. A member-supported service of Florida Gulf Coast University, WGCU provides educational programming that inspires, informs and engages our community. Serving all or part of 12 counties in south and Southwest Florida, with five distinct digital TV channels, two FM radio channels, two HD radio channels, and multiple websites, WGCU delivers national and international programming, and develops, produces and delivers relevant, informative and educational local programs to the region.  More information about WGCU is available online at WGCU.org, and by following us on Facebook at wgcupublicmedia, on Twitter @wgcu and Instagram @wgcupublicmedia.